A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Unsung Heroes

Score Card Inc

Three years ago in November, 2013, I posted a score sheet on certain artists/trends and how they are dealing with the music business.

Three years later, how are the artists fairing.

Robb Flynn
He still understands that it is not all about making records. From Nov 2013 to now, Robb Flynn via Machine Head, kept on releasing his Journals both video and written. In April, 2014, “Killers and Kings” came out for Record Store Day and the band went on tour. He started a clothing range called “Killers and Kings” that didn’t really take off. In November, 2014, “Bloodstone and Diamonds” came out and the band embarked on a lengthy “An Evening With” world tour. In June 1, 2016, “Is There Anybody Out There?” came out as a stand-alone single.

His connection with his audience runs deep. People either dig him or detest him or some people will not just forget him in an orange jumpsuit during the Nu-Metal phase of the band’s career.

Protest The Hero
Back in 2013, “Protest The Hero” showed how the record labels are so out of touch with its customers. PTH was dropped because the label told them they have no audience. However, a fan funding campaign showed a pretty impressive hard-core audience that was willing to cough up some serious dollars for the band. Even the band was blown away at the response.

And they did it again between Nov 2015 and April 2016 with “Pacific Myth” an innovative one song per month release over six months via Bandcamp. Fans had the option of two packages, and I selected the one that also had the six video releases. In between, the guys would upload drum videos, cooking videos, song transcriptions and what not.

Nikki Sixx
In 2013, he talked about a farewell tour. Well that tour finally happened and concluded in 2015. The Crue fan base didn’t really need one more world tour however, they wanted to finish up in their own way and the world tour is what we got, with a new song called “All Bad Things”. The movie is still in the works, they have their own pleasure toys, a rumour of The Dirt 2, plus lawsuits from photographers and opening bands to contend with. Seriously, squirting piss at a bunch of guys who paid $1 million to be on the tour would always end up in the courts.

With Sixx A.M. he has released an albums worth of music and the next album is coming in a few weeks. They are on tour with Five Finger Death Punch, he does his Sixx Sense Radio Show and he doesn’t like to wash his hands after going to the toilet.

Coheed and Cambria
By November, 2013, COCA had been touring non-stop on the back of “The Afterman” two album releases that came out within a 4 month window. Add to that Comic Con appearances, plus Sci-Fi conventions and appearances in Comic Shops and you get the idea that this band realises that it is not just about music and money. It is about creativity.

Since then, Claude Sanchez became a dad. He wrote more comics with his wife called “Translucid” in 2014 and in 2015 managed to release another slab of songs called “The Color Before The Sun” and go on a another world tour.

Metallica
Back in 2013, I wrote;

They need to make new music soon. There are only so many times that a band can go on a worldwide victory lap on the same piece of music. They need to be back in the studio.

Well, we are almost one week away from that new music hitting the streets and in the meantime, we have been treated to three tracks.
It’s a welcome relief to hear Metallica doing what they do best and I believe they have enough new music in their archives for another album to drop within two years this time, instead of eight.

And after hearing the album – yes it is available on the pirate sites, I can honestly say that it’s not worth the 8 year wait at all and maybe 4 song EP’s is the best way to go.

Dream Theater
I wrote in November 2013, that they need a great record soon or they will become yesterday’s news. Dream Theater has a knack for popping up with some goodies, like “Images and Words”, “Scenes From A Memory”, “Systematic Chaos” and “A Dramatic Turn Of Events”.

So in January 2016, they dropped the 130 minute “Astonishing” concept album, about a dystopian future society. Concept albums lead to different revenue spin offs like a stage play, comic book stories, video games, animations, TV series, a movie and so forth. But then again, Slayer are doing a graphic comic book series and have never done a concept album.

Stone Sour
I wrote in 2013, that something went south with their career trajectory. Of course, a beast called Slipknot would devour the creative forces of the band. Their take on modern metal is good, but with Slipknot getting more melodic, is there a reason for Stone Sour to exist.

Five Finger Death Punch
They have an audience who purchases and streams their product. Along the way, each album has received certifications for so many units moved. An onstage meltdown, a record label lawsuit and then a change of label has not slowed the band down in any way. If they can remain together, they will remain a powerhouse.

Trivium
Back in November, 2013, their new album “Vengeance Falls” was called a Disturbed covers album. The truth is, if people are talking about you, it is a good thing. And that album gave Trivium a concert classic in “Strife”. Since then, they released “Silence In The Snow” in 2015. They are always looking to reinvent themselves constantly while staying true to heavy metal. Plus Matt Heafy has a pretty cool Top 10 list of albums that changed his life.

1. Metallica – The Black Album (1991)
“A kid lent me The Black Album at school and it changed my life. I had never heard anything like it before, and I started playing guitar all the time.”

2. In Flames – Whoracle (1997)
“That was at the time of Napster, and I was into the classic great metal bands. I was on Napster and I found In Flames. I had never heard melodic death metal before, and it changed my ear on what kind of music I wanted to play.”

3. Queen – A Night At The Opera (1975)
“What I’ve always loved about Queen is that they’ve never released the same thing twice. Everything is drastically different while still sounding like Queen. Every song on A Night At The Opera sounds different to the next one and they all stand up as fantastic.”

4. Iron Maiden – Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (1988)
“With Iron Maiden it’s hard, because I love so many of their records. They’re all so important. Seventh Son, though, is the one that really got me into Iron Maiden. It’s one of their more epic records; there’s vivid storytelling going on. Getting into Iron Maiden helped me trace the roots of the music that I love. I could see where so many metal, death metal and black metal bands had taken things from.”

5. Ihsahn – Eremita (2012)
“Emperor changed my life, and Ihsahn changed my life again with this album. He spun the idea of black metal on its head by incorporating jazz chords, interesting production and clean singing. That record taught me to never be afraid of making whatever I want to make. We’ve always done that, but this album drove that home for me.”

6. Boston – Boston (1976)
“The vocal production is insane. Everything about this record epitomises the best things of rock ‘n’ roll.”

7. The Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)
“The Beatles blow my mind in the same way that Queen do in that every song and record is so different to the last. Both of those bands have incredible songwriters as well. It’s not like nowadays where you might have one songwriter in a band.”

8. Emperor – Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk (1997)
“This is where Emperor really changed the dynamic of where black metal was going. Black metal was the rebellion to rock and metal, and was supposed to be different. “When there’s a movement like that, a lot of bands come out playing semi-similar music. That record opened up with clean guitar and there’s this classical singing; it has chaotic moments and beautiful moments all in one. Emperor makes such interesting black metal with these big dramatic moments.”

9. Depeche Mode – Violator (1990)
“Listening to Depeche Mode, you can hear that Rammstein is a combination of Depeche Mode and Metallica. Violator is one of the darkest, scariest records I’ve ever heard. It has this different kind of sadness that you feel in the music.”

10. The London Symphony Orchestra – Mozart’s Requiem (1791)
“The gothic artwork of that record is incredible, and this version for me is just the best. Listening to this, you can hear that out of all contemporary music, metal is the closest living relative to classical. It is the most epic moments of music that have always drawn me in, and I feel that with Mozart’s Requiem that is where you’re getting into the blueprint for everything that was to come.”

Shinedown
They have an audience who want to listen to them and so far, no one’s doing hard rock better than them. Their new album “Threat To Survival” has taken its influences from Adele, Imagine Dragons and other pop artists and they still made it rock hard. Daughtry and James Durbin should take note. Along the way, their fans purchased and streamed all the way to certification after certification.

Avenged Sevenfold
Say what you will about the “influences” on “Hail To The King”, doing that album was a bigger risk for Avenged Sevenfold then their new album and it paid off for them.

Fast forward to 2016, and their new album drops early. It is a creative tour de force but to me it’s already in the rear view. All of the good bits in each song are undone by the creativity of trying to push the boundaries.

Piracy
In 2013, I wrote that piracy is not that large of a problem as the majors and the RIAA make it out to be and with revenues in 2016, approaching the pre-Napster era, it’s further proof that piracy does not affect their bottom lines, especially when there are services out there that can compete with piracy.

Evergrey
The pure definition of perseverance with 20 plus years in the music business and still going strong.

By November 2013, the “new” version of the band that delivered “Glorious Collision” had splintered again and lead vocalist/guitarist Tom Englund was not sure on the next step. A reconnection with drummer Jonas Ekdahl and guitarist Henrik Danhage (who departed before “Glorious Collision”) spawned the excellent “Hymns For The Broken” in 2014 and a few months ago, “The Storm Within” builds on the atmospherics created by “Hymns”.

Megadeth
In 2013, Megadeth’s new album “Supercollider” was outsold by Metallica’s self-titled “Black” album. In 2015, Mustaine got his metal chops back and in 2016, “Dystopia” came out. Another Mustaine Resurrection was at hand.

Tremonti/Alter Bridge
Mark Tremonti knows it’s about putting new music out there and consistently. In 2013, we had “Fortress” from Alter Bridge. In 2015, we had “Cauterize” from Tremonti and 2016 has given us, “Dust” from Tremonti and “The Last Hero” from Alter Bridge. In three years, Tremonti has been part of 4 albums while Metallica ……

The Night Flight Orchestra
The best classic rock side project ever from Soilwork and Arch Enemy band members. The first album “Internal Affairs” came out in 2012 and the second “Skyline Whispers” in 2015. Essential listening to any hard rock fans of the 80’s.

Sales
In 2013, I wrote that sales are not the best metric to measure a bands reach and pull in the market. In 2016, listens are more important than sales.

Bullet For My Valentine
By November 2013, people had lost their “Temper Temper” with them, but in 2015, the band found their “Venom” again, which leads us to new music hitting the net in November 2016.

Revolution Saints
In 2013, this band existed in the head of the Frontiers President. In 2015, they released an excellent melodic AOR rock album. So much potential, so many good songs, great musicians and it all went to hell because Castronovo couldn’t keep his 5555t together. Let’s hope that Jack Blades and Doug Aldrich forgive him and they try for another album. This time with the three of them writing.

TesseracT
One of the hardest working progressive bands out there, building their fanbase, city by city. In 2011, they released “One”. In 2013, they released the excellent “Altered State” and in 2015 we got “Polaris”.

Days Of Jupiter
An unsung Swedish melodic groove rock band, that’s a cross between Evergrey and Disturbed. In 2012 they released “Secrets Brought to Life” and in 2015, “Only Ashes Remain” came out.

Sweet and Lynch
Another album would be sweet.

Muse
They play stadiums but they don’t have the same sales figures as the 70’s and 80’s legends. A perfect example of the modern world, in which massive single songs sell concert tickets.

Live
In 2013, I wrote;
Remember the excitement and the buzz of going to the show. It was uncontrollable. Everyone waiting in line to get inside, to watch a band that rules, in an era that music ruled. Today, it is too expensive to take kids to a concert and that is only for a glimpse in the back. This business needs a reset.

Concert ticket prices are still high, especially for the superstar acts. The price gauge happened as an offset to dwindling revenues from recorded sales, however with recorded music revenue now as high as the pre-Napster era, there is no reason for the high concert ticket prices.

Slash
As an artist, he didn’t need to go back to Gunners. He had enough momentum to keep going as a solo artist and with Myles Kennedy, a better front man than Axl Rose. Slash kept on releasing new music consistently, while Duff and Axl complained of piracy and artistically were dead in the water. Money triumphs over creativity and in this case, it’s really sad.

Album
Back in 2013, I wrote how everyone talks about the money that is lost due to piracy as album sales shrink. Back then 20% of the tracks on Spotify have never been played. So what is the point of the album, when people ignore the songs that are not “hits”. When I go to Spotify and I come across an artist I haven’t heard before, I go to their Spotify page and hear the tracks in their top 10 list. Those tracks in most cases are pulled from many different albums.

And if any of those tracks connect with me, I might dig deeper into the album.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela
Created by their love of metal and rock music and when that same genre put up roadblocks to a career in music, they changed tact and went all flamenco acoustic on the world. Talk about paying their dues and taking risks. They moved from Mexico and took a chance in Europe. Over an 8 year Dublin residence, they honed their style and songs, so when their “official” debut album hit in 2006, what seemed like an overnight sensation was 15 years in the making.

There is nothing more difficult in the world then trying to make it as a musician. You need to show up day after day, week after week, year after year. And your brand or movement might just make some small gains. Then it hits a few speed bumps, like Rodrigo and Gabriela’s metal band losing their recording contract in 1997 and suddenly you are back at the start. But they kept on showing up, on the coast of Mexico and playing their acoustic guitars in the bars. Because showing up day after day, is the hardest part of making a difference. If you look at the history of the artists we like and admire, you will see many years in pursuit of their dreams.

It is a work of a lifetime to create an impact and build something of substance. In 2013, they were riding the highs of their 2012 “Area 52” collaboration, which involved re-working their best songs with a full flamenco band. Then in 2014, “9 Dead Alive” dropped and new music is needed ASAP.

Sebastian Bach/Skid Row
They shouldn’t get back together, because no one cares about Skid Row in the way they used too. They might have a large audience in Japan, like Dokken, but the rest of the “Youth Gone Wild” have moved on. Sebastian Bach is actually bigger than Skid Row and releases way better music than Skid Row have done without him. But, what was he thinking when he approved the photo for his memoir’s cover.

The Kindred
From Canada and the healthy progressive scene. They started off as “Today I Caught The Plague” from the ashes of another band called “A Legend Falls”. In 2011 they released the excellent “Lore” and went on tour with one of my favourite bands in Protest The Hero and their “Scurrilous Tour”. Then in 2013, a name change happened to “The Kindred” and the excellent “Life In Lucidity” came out at the start of 2014.

However, PTH needed a drummer for their “Volition” tour and it was no surprise that they tapped Mike Ieradi (who also co-founded the group) to fill the spot. Then in 2015, vocalist David Journeaux departed, with Johnny McArthur as their new vocalist and Kenny Saunders as their new drummer. So now I wait to see what comes next.

Streaming
Back in 2013, I wrote that everyone talks about the money which isn’t filtering down to the artist and how streaming is too entrenched to be replaced. Since then the record labels have grown their revenues on the back of streaming. Artists who negotiate deals with the streaming services like Metallica and Motley Crue have never complained about streaming. Suddenly, luddites Anthrax are not complaining and Scott Ian even mentioned how he believes streaming is the best thing to have happened to the recording industry.

Streaming is the future and those artist who don’t grow with this future will be too busy shrinking.

The Gaslight Anthem
They do the early 80’s Bruce Springsteen better than Bruce Springsteen these days. It was like a supergroup of independent musicians that came together in New Jersey in 2006. Their 2010 album, “American Slang” spawned an unexpected hit with the title track and “45” from their 2012 album “Handwritten” became their biggest hit. Since then, “Get Hurt” came out in 2014 and by July 2015, the band went on an indefinite hiatus.

Since the hiatus, singer Brian Fallon released a solo album called “Painkillers” in March 2016, and on April, 2016, a vinyl EP called “Georgia” was released for Record Store Day 2016 with a limited pressing run of 2,000 copies on 10″ vinyl. Let’s hope that “The Gaslight Anthem” get together for more music over the next three-year period.

Volbeat
Seen as overnight sensations however they are over 25 years in the business. It all started with “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood” in 2008 and being added to the Metallica “Death Magnetic U.S. Tour”. Then in 2010, “Beyond Hell/Above Heaven” came out and while that was still selling, they released “Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies” in 2013 and they hit every major music market over and over again. Since then, they released “Seal the Deal and Let’s Boogie” and are continuing on their merry ways. For all the newbies, check out their streaming numbers. They are huge compared to other major label metal/rock acts.

Killswitch Engage/Times Of Grace
In 2013, Killswitch Engage released “Disarm the Descent”, their comeback album with Jesse Leach on vocals. And how good is “In Due Time” with brutal verses and an arena rock chorus. Then in February 2015, a new track called “Loyalty” appeared on “Catch The Throne: The Mixtape Volume 2” to promote “Game of Thrones”. They then toured and kept on working on “Incarnate” which finally came out on March 11, 2016. Since then, they toured and are planning on releasing a beer. Meanwhile, “Times of Grace” have five songs completed for a new album to come out, with their last one coming out in 2011.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

2015

“Progress is made by improving on what came before”.

Music is no different. If you want a career, if you want to make progress, you need to improve on what came before. The class of 2015 so far is doing just that.

NUMBER 0:
Protest The Hero – Pacific Myth Subscription Series

PTH is one band (of many) that are using different ways of connecting and engaging with their fan base.

I was one of those fans that contributed to their Indiegogo campaign for the “Volition” album, watched em live when they came to Oz, purchased merch and now I am one of those fans that is contributing to the “Pacific Myth” subscription series. The way PTH geared it up is they have two packages for a one of fee of $12 and $25. On both packages, the subscriber would receive a monthly song (for a period of 6 months) to stream, or download. In addition, you will also receive the instrumental version, along with artwork, lyrics, music scores and notes. The $25 package also includes a six part doc series.

As vocalist Rody mentioned in the video launching the series, “think of it as an EP spread over six months”.

“We have done the full-length album and ensuing record cycle four times now. While they all had their benefits, they all dragged on. Most record cycles are at least 2 years. That’s two years of promoting 40-or-so minutes of music. Music that you may have written two years before that! We have never been able to release what we want to release NOW. So that’s exactly what this is. These are songs we love now, songs we are proud of now, and songs which are inherently more candid than our other material. Don’t get us wrong, this is very much the pth you either know and love or know and hate. If you like what we do, we are pretty sure you are going to dig this crap. I guess we’ll let these little lullabies speak for themselves…”

This again is another innovative way for the band to connect directly with the fans. It’s a brave new world out there for monetizing your fan base. You can scream and complain about royalty payments or you can innovate, adapt and connect with your audience like PTH, for it is your audience that sustains you, keeps you employed.

Now, if you like a hard rock song or a metal song that sticks to formula, then you will probably not like Protest The Hero. If you are into progressive and technical music with different moods, that could have melodic vocals and harsh vocals (especially in the earlier days) with intelligent lyrics, then PTH is a band you would like.

“Begging the questions “why?””, why do we work until we die” ….. from “Tidal”
“A drop into the sea whose ripple turns to a tidal wave and sweeps the shores it once forgave” ….. from “Tidal”
“The sun, the moon, the Earth, conversed and agreed, the people of the world must pay for its atrophy” ….. from “Tidal”

Here is the link for “Tidal”.
Here is the link for “Ragged Tooth”.

NUMBER 1:
The Night Flight Orchestra – Skyline Whispers
This is the best album for 2015 by far.

For the ones that don’t know, TNFO is a very classic AOR rock sounding side-project. From “Soilwork”, Björn “Speed” Strid and David Andersson are on vocals and guitar. From “Arch Enemy”, Sharlee D’Angelo is on bass. From Swedish rock group “Von Benzo” comes Richard Larsson on keyboards. From Swedish metal band “Meanstreak and Swedish rock group “Orchid” comes Jonas Källsbäck on drums. Rounding out the band for the second album is Sebastian Forslund from “Kadawatha” on congas, percussion and guitar.

So way back in 2012, TNFO released an incredible album called “Internal Affairs”. It was a throwback to the Classic Rock era of the Seventies and a joy to listen to from start to finish. Fast forward to 2015, and we have the second album, “Skyline Whispers”. Like the debut album, it is a trip down memory lane. However in this case, instead of being a throwback to the sounds of the Seventies, it is a throwback to the sound those Seventies bands did towards the end of the Seventies and into the Eighties.

Check out “Sail On”, “Living for the Night-time”, “I Ain’t Old, I Ain’t Young”, “Spanish Ghosts” and “The Heather Reports” for essential listening.

“I have crossed too many oceans
I was born a rambling man
And I’ve caused a lot of heartaches
But I never gave a damn

Now the road that lies before me
Gives no answers to my prayers
But I still have hopes that surely
Things will add up in the end

Sail on, sail on”

NUMBER 2:
Whitesnake – The Purple Album

To be honest, Whitesnake has had a tough run. When the band and Coverdale got that huge success in the U.S (thanks to MTV) between 1987 and 1989, no one really had a clue about Coverdale’s origin story.

The majority of the 7 million people in the U.S that purchased the 1987 album were clueless that Coverdale had released over 10 albums prior to that and that he was even in Deep Purple. And who would have thought that “Here I Go Again”, “Still Of The Night” and “Is This Love” would take that much mindshare and become a soundtrack to people’s lives.

Which brings me to “The Purple Album”.

I have read a lot of comments on social media that either hate “The Purple Album” or love it. There is no in-between. I’m confused as to why it is causing such a great divide. “The Purple Album” is the perfect bridge to bring Coverdale’s Deep Purple legacy into his Whitesnake legacy.

Who better to do remakes of those great songs than Coverdale himself?

With the help of John Kalodner at Geffen Records, Coverdale proved himself a master at doing remakes. Remember “Crying In The Rain” and “Here I Go Again”.

People also forget that Jimi Hendrix’s biggest songs were remakes of songs already released. Think “Hey Joe” and “All Along The Watchtower”. Hell, Def Leppard did their own remakes of “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and “Rock Of Ages”, due to a record label “licensing vs sales monies to be paid dispute”. Anyway, whatever peoples’ views on remakes/forgeries are, “The Purple Album” is a classic modern sounding album with no filler, that a new generation of fans would gravitate to.

“The Purple Album” project was birthed by tragedy. After the death of Jon Lord, Coverdale reached out to Ritchie Blackmore to discuss a possible get together and to thank Blackmore for giving an unknown an opportunity to be the lead singer in Deep Purple. When that new collaboration didn’t eventuate, the project would go on to become a new Whitesnake project. With the backing of Frontiers Records, who just love to wrap up new sound recordings of songs written in the Seventies and Eighties for another 100 years of copyright, the project was a go.

“People are sayin’ the woman is damned, She makes you burn with a wave of her hand” ….. from “Burn”

“Ride the rainbow, Crack the sky, Stormbringer coming, Time to die” ….. from “Stormbringer”

“Many times I’ve been a traveller, I looked for something new” ….. from “Soldier Of Fortune”

“My mama showed me how to rock in the cradle, but I learned how to roll along,
My papa said “son, gotta git some fun, Cos when your old it ain’t too good on your own” ….. from “Coming Home”

NUMBER 3:
Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls
What can I say, it’s the mighty Maiden. Hell, the football Summer Comp team my boys are in is called Iron Maiden. Plus I purchased 5 tickets to their concert next year, so that I can take my whole family to watch them. Enough said.

It’s been five years from the “The Final Frontier” album. During that period, Maiden has hit the road in support of “The Final Frontier” and they hit the road to celebrate a milestone from the past. Add to that, live DVD releases, the writing and recording process of the new album, Bruce Dickinson’s cancer diagnosis, and the result is “The Book Of Souls”.

First, the album doesn’t sound like a professional mega band recording. It is raw and with mistakes.

Second, I do wish that on some of the songs some editing was employed. And that is a difficult thing for me to say as a lot of my favourite songs clock in at over 10 minutes. However, the Maiden concerts are known for fans chanting and singing along with the riffs and the chants, and “The Book Of Souls” is full of songs that have those chants.

It’s funny, but Iron Maiden is one of those bands that has a fan base that loves them. That is evident by the ticket sales and merch sales they rack up in each city they hit. They could make a career of revisiting their legacy on each tour, like the “Caught Somewhere Back In Time” tour. But Maiden doesn’t want to be a nostalgic act.

The album is number three on my list because each song has an idea that is like a lightning strike, a moment that makes me tap my foot, nod my head and take notice. And it could have been a perfect 60 minute album, instead of a 93 minute album.

“The red and the black
People don’t want the truth
Look in their eyes and you send them away” ….. from “The Red And The Black”

“If you should sell your soul as cheaply as I did then
The road to ruin is a long road to hide in
We signed our lives away to have an escape
It’s something that will be whatever our fate” ….. from “When The River Runs Deep”

“We must go now, we must take our chance with fate” ….. from “Empire Of The Clouds”

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